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30 years in the army, and he’d do it all again

STANDING PROUD: Barry De Bomford with his daughter Kathy Gunning at Yamba Anzac Day dawn service.
STANDING PROUD: Barry De Bomford with his daughter Kathy Gunning at Yamba Anzac Day dawn service.

"I LOVED it. I would do it again tomorrow" aren't always the words you hear from diggers who saw so much bloodshed, felt so much pain and fought within inches of their lives.

But as they come from the mouth of Barry De Bomford, his words paint a picture of pride and it becomes clear that feeling of knowing you made a difference trumps all.

At age 26, Mr De Bomford was one of the "older fellas" to join the army.

He enlisted in his home state of Tasmania in 1966 and did not retire until they forced him to, 29 years and seven months later.

A former motor mechanic, the parts and machinery he soon learnt to handle were a world away from what he knew in his early 20s.

"It was pretty different, but a few of my mates had joined up and I just thought well, that looks like me too," he said.

He was posted to the 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment where he did two tours of Vietnam.

"On the second tour I was wounded in a mining incident and they sent me back home," Mr De Bomford said.

He was soon promoted to Sergeant Major and later relocated to Townsville to the second 4th Battalion where he became a warrant officer.

Between that, and afterwards, Mr De Bomford and his family moved every few years, from Holsworthy, Singleton, Bathurst, Rockhampton, Hobart and back to Sydney.

In 1995 he reached compulsory retiring age of 55 and was forced to leave the order and structured life he knew.

And while his medals leave a lasting memory for the now Yamba resident, they remind him, and all of us, of the mates that never made it back to home soil.

"I lost three fairly close mates, but you just learn to live with it. Life goes on," he said.

"When you're out there everything just happens so fast and sudden, then before you know it it's all over.

"That's why Australian soldiers are so good, they are so well-trained that when something happens, their training just kicks in."

With a smile on his face and his proud daughter, Kathy Gunning, by his side, Mr De Bomford told The Daily Examiner just what the 2015 Anzac Day centenary meant to him.

"This is one of the most important days of our lives."

Mr De Bomford received two Vietnam War medals, two long service medals, one active service medal and an ADF medal.

Topics:  anzac day, army, editors picks, veteran




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